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Costa Rica

Where to go

A group of us are looking to rent a house next Feb. however, none of us have been to Costa Rica before & don't know where to stay. We'd like to be near the beach (if not on) but also within driving distance to excursions and very short driving distance to local bars/restaurants/nightlife. Any suggestions on what part of Costa Rica to stay? We can fly into San Jose or Liberia. I'm looking @ Jaco in Puntaareans, Puerto Viego in Limon and Tamarindo in Guanacaste. Would these locations be good for what we're looking for?

6 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

Depending on the makeup of your group would weigh greatly on considering Jaco. The beach is far from being one of the best in Costa Rica and the nightlife you would encounter in Jaco is geared more towards men and "ladies of the evening" I'm partial to the beaches in Guanacaste but thats not to say other areas don't have great beaches. Tamarindo will have some night life and nice beaches. Limon is also a good choice. When you are talking nightlife and shopping it cuts back on the beaches to stay. There are many small communities up and down the Guanacaste coast but the nightlife dies out fairly early or there's not much shopping. There's alway a trade off at the really good beaches.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Marlborough

For laid back relaxation, head to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. The beaches are better than the Pacific side and the water is much nicer. The people came originally from Jamaica, so you get the Rasta style and Caribbean English. Some jungle excursions, but not the theme-park zipline activities of the Pacific coast. The east coast is remote, a good 4-5 hour drive from San Jose. This isolation helps preserve the place, it's not overrun with all-inclusive resorts full of destination wedding parties. The places to stay are small and rustic, generally no air conditioning (we were quite comfortable in the evening breezes, surprisingly mosquito-free close to the water).

Surfing is best on the Pacific side. For drunken partying with strippers and whores, go to Jaco. Tamarindo on the Nicoya peninsula is isolated and rural. Down the coast south of Jaco to Quepos and the Manuel Antonio park is very nice. Stay away from Puntarenas, it's a crappy, polluted, uncomfortable city.

Read and research. Good luck!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Thank you. We range from early 40's to mid 50's. We're not looking for a "party" spot per se. More of a bar/lounge hang out. If we'd like to go out one night & have dinner & drinks we'd like to be close to somewhere we can. Whether is be w/ the locals or other tourists. The beach isn't a huge plus; we'd just like to be near if we want to lay out. I'm sure we'll do a lot of that at our rental. Also, we plan on donig a lot of sighseeing/excursions. I guess we want to be centrally located to beach/jungle/town/bars/restaurants. :) Thank you!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

BTW, probably won't do the Caribbean coast as we visit Jamaica quite often and aren't looking for that atmosphere. :)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

Any thoughts on Playa de Coco? So far, sounds like Quepos & Tamarindo are more our style. I'm guessing anything in the Guanacaste area. I've been doing a lot of research & reading reviews & such but it's always best to get it straight from the horse's mouth. I don't trust all reviews. Could be an employee writing it. LOL

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey


Playa del Coco is a long way and really out there. I would not recommend Quepos. One of the dirtier towns in Costa Rica. I've driven through about 8 times over the years to get to Manuel Antonio and I can't think of one reason why I would want to stay there. If you want that are, look into what is available close to Manuel Antonio. Although if you want to access a beach, M.A. Is beautiful but it is quite a walk to get there from the entrance and crowded.

Are you really set on staying at one location? For excursion you may want to split time between a mountain community and a beach community. You can really get a true sense of the country that way. If this is possible, look into La Fortuna and Arenal volcano. Great excursion from here to see the volcano, horseback riding and my favorite, hot springs heated by the volcano,

Not sure of your length of stay but 3-4 days in the mountains then and equal amount of time at a beach community is perfect. I tend to stay in Samara on the Guanacaste coast. Some nice local bars that have picked up recently however A quieter town but plenty of excursions and really good restaurants.

But if this is not possible, Tamarindo might be your place.

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